CVs are a fabulous way to frame your skills and interests with institutions you are interacting with professionally. The Fighty Squirrel highly recommends you personalize each CV you send out for the audience. This is painfully true for applications for jobs and grants where your piles of accumulated titles and few papers can show that you fancy yourself more of a manager than a do-er. Similarly, tons of abstracts and no papers can leave a study section wondering why you have yet to publish your results.

oh-no-you-didntIn one recent study section I served on, an early career investigator brought the squirrel side eye by listing two papers as “in preparation for submission for Science.” Oh, no, you didn’t. Oh, yes, they did. And it wasn’t like Science was kicking down their door to publish there. All their other publications were in decidedly less glamorous journals. This made this squirrel get her feisty on and look up ALL the applicants papers and grants online. Sure enough, a few of the papers they said were, say, published in Journal of Neuroscience were published in Journal of Neuroscience Methods*. There’s a difference. A big one. Once you get a whiff of some stinky cheese, it’s hard to forget it. The applicant ended up drawing an ethics review. You don’t want an ethics review of you. Ever. For anything.

Back to the folks who aren’t making up their CVs whole cloth (hopefully that’s all of you!). Particularly for jobs and talks, it’s super easy just to dump off the latest version of your CV with an admin assistant and paper bomb everyone who asks….something that recently happened to blog master Namenzia over at Scientopia. Namenzia murdered a small forest by printing off someone’s 107 page CV.  Unless you are getting the Nobel Prize, your CV should never be 107 pages. And even then, you have the dang prize….you just need to pick it up. Don’t come off like a jerk. Know your audience. Know what they want and give it to them. Everything else is stale icing that no one wants.

Squirrel’s List of CV No-No’s:

  • No ‘papers in progress’
  • One year’s worth of abstracts
  • Shorten to 8 pages MAX and list representative examples (10 papers out of 192 published in peer reviewed journals)
  • No grants that have no salary support for you (i.e. things where you are ‘training faculty’)
  • No hobbies, SSN, home addresses (we aren’t dating and if you don’t want everyone to Google how much your house costs, it shouldn’t be on there)

*Those aren’t the actual journals they purported to publish in, but you get the idea. I’m not sure why I changed the names, but I’m sure some lawyer will appreciate the plausible deniability. You’re welcome. Also, get a real job.

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1 Comment

I agree that framing a CV is a critical task for an academic faculty, and it is far too easy to let bloat to be a full portfolio record rather than a CV. Of course the post is edged with humor and tongue-in-cheek, but offers some good advice. Makes me want to review and trim. Thanks for the post!

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